Rubber sheets are used in a broad spectrum of different industries, for an equally broad range of reasons. Rubber is a particularly useful material in many manufacturing use cases because it is cost effective and versatile. Whatever your business makes, read on for our guide to the most common types of rubber sheeting and the different features of each.
If you are manufacturing gaskets or seals that do not need to be particularly resistant to extremes of temperature or to oils and chemicals, then natural or standard rubber sheet is the right material for you. You can depend on this material for its strength as well as its naturally waterproof properties. Thicker versions of this type of sheeting are particularly good for reducing the transference of vibrations between metal components.
Nitrile rubber sheeting is particularly useful for gaskets, and in machines with oil present – this is because it is incredibly resistant to oils and other chemicals that might degrade other types of rubber. Nitrile is also strongly resistant to heat ageing, so it is great in automotive equipment. Nitrile rubber will retain its strength and shape even after rapid heating and cooling cycles, so you can rely on this type of rubber sheeting for a range of intense machine uses.
Silicon rubber sheeting is ideal for use in the food service and medical industries as it is chemically inert and can withstand temperatures up to 200°C. This means that it can be cleaned at the very high temperatures that those industries require without losing its usefulness. Silicon rubber is used primarily in gaskets.
There are a number of different measurements for rubber sheeting. Obviously, you will need to consider the dimensions of the sheet that you buy – thickness will be crucial to the task that you have in mind, while the length and width will inform how many units of your intended item you can make from each sheet or roll.
Other considerations include:
This is the measurement of how much pressure a rubber sheet can take before it becomes indented. Sometimes known as a durometer test, this is performed by pressing a steel gauge into the sheet and recording the reading when the tip of the device is pushed level with a plate within the gauge.
Shore hardness is measured on a handful of different scales – the one that is relevant for the type of rubbers used in industrial settings (for gaskets and seals, for example) is Shore A. When you review your rubber sheeting, make sure that the Shore A hardness rating is 60+, and you can be sure that it will be strong enough for the purpose without becoming too brittle.
This is the amount of force required to break the rubber. It is measured in mega Pascals, which is written as MPa. 1 MPa is equal to one million pascals, or one million newtons per square metre. The higher the figure associate with your tensile break strength, the more force it will take to break the rubber when in use, so it is an important factor when constructing gaskets in particular.
This is sometimes called fracture strain or tensile elongation at break, and it refers to how much the rubber can stretch before it breaks. It is measured as a percentage of the original, pre-stretch length of the item – so for example if you make a seal out of rubber with a 100% elongation at break, then you should be able to stretch the rubber to twice its original length before it breaks. Look for rubbers with 200% elongation at break and you should be confident that your rubber products will stand up to anything.